7 things to shake a stick at

I've found that folks in generations above and beyond mine often use turns of phrase that make me ponder. Or chuckle. Or Google. Or all of the above.

The latter was the case the other night as Jim and I watched the news. A reporter questioned a not-all-that-elderly-but-certainly-older-and-more-folksy-than-me eyewitness to an event, and the guy mentioned there being "more than you could shake a stick at" of something or another.

Now, it's not as if I've never heard that phrase. I've heard it millions of times, as we all have — most often uttered by older folk. But as images of cavemen shaking their sticks at fire or herds of antelope or whatever else they drew on their cave walls swirled about my noggin', I wondered where the phrase came from. So I Googled it.

Turns out the "more than you could shake a stick at" etymology isn't easy to pin down. Nor is exactly what it once meant, only what it now means, which is in official terms, one heck of a lot.

With that phrase stuck in my mind, I began considering a list of the things in my life that are so high in number I could play caveman and shake a stick at them. Some perfectly fit the label as "more than I could shake a stick at" usually refers to a number so high it can't be counted. Others on my list, though, are high in countable number yet still make me want to shake a stick at them because, well, they're so high in number.

dog with a stick 


Pine needles. With more pine trees on my property than, well, I could shake a stick at, I have quadruple that number in pine needles that need to be raked up and gotten rid of. Jim and I will be busy this weekend (and will likely shake sticks at one another in our sure state of displeasure).

Boxes. I receive at least one package a day. I save the boxes because you just never know when you might need to ship something or box up something. So the closet in my study contains boxes stacked ceiling high. And not all neat and tidy. No, I simply squish in another box as it arrives at my door and is unpacked. So each time I open that closet to add another box to the batch, I could use a stick — not for shaking but for staking the stack to keep it all from falling upon my head.

Books. I have a lot of books. I love books. I don't read enough books. I don't get rid of enough books. Some of the stacks of books around my house — because there's no more room on my bazillion book shelves — rival my stacks of boxes. Perhaps I need a book closet to go with my box closet. (Or maybe I need to fill my boxes with books thus condensing my stick shaking.)

Music. Jim and I were avid music fans long before we knew one another. We both brought into the marriage lots of music... on records. Since our union 30+ years ago, we added to the records lots of cassettes (some, like the records, we still have) and CDs, plus music on iPods, iPhones and iTunes on computers. Music is all over the place — upstairs, downstairs, outside in the stereo on the patio bar, out in the garage in the stereos in our cars. I shake a stick — more like a fist — each time I want to listen to a particular album. Then I usually give up and turn on the radio.

Stairs. The upstairs/downstairs locations of our music really are a challenge for we really do have a lot of stairs. In fact, I once wrote a post about all our stairs right here.

Traffic. We live near a busy boulevard. One of the busiest in our city. It's loud. It sucks. It makes us shake our fists, our sticks, and wish we could shake the city planners who need to put up a sound barrier. If we didn't love our house so very much, we'd move where there's less traffic.

Miles. We could always move near our grandsons for a little peace and quiet, at least from the traffic sounds. But, as I've mentioned before, that's not gonna happen. So I shake my stick at the miles between my grandsons and me. At last count those miles numbered 812. That's more than enough to shake a stick at. I do inside, often.

There are plenty of other things that I have more than I could shake a stick at. But as time is not something I have more than I could shake a stick at — and patience with my inane list-making is not likely something you have more than you could shake a stick at — I'll put a stick in it and end here.

Thanks for sticking with me til the end. I ♥ you more than I could shake a stick at!

*Now, the title of this post really should be that, but it was far too many words for the space.

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

I have more ___________ than I could shake a stick at.